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Unique and hopeful times for a more just world

Posted in:
    Friday, November 20, 2020 - 11:48
    Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada (English-Speaking)
    Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada (English-Speaking)
    Photo Credit: 
    Photo by Khalid Skaik

    What an honour it is to join you in this vibrant movement! 

    I am inspired by Amnesty’s exceptional legacy and deeply grateful for the confidence placed in me by the Board to carry on this important work.

    Receiving the Amnesty candle from the remarkable Alex Neve, whose leadership has brought so much change and impacted so many, is particularly heartwarming. 

    I am thrilled to continue to pursue rights for all in Canada and around the globe— particularly for those whose dignity continues to be so brutally violated through state violence, discrimination, patriarchy, and systemic racism.  

    As Alex eloquently outlined in his farewell reflections, the challenges ahead are daunting. We are facing a deep crisis of fundamental freedoms globally, and those standing bravely for human rights are more at risk than ever. 

    As you may have already learnt, our very own Amnesty family in India is under assault, and has recently had to temporarily close its operations. We stand in firm solidarity with them and  other Amnesty activists around the world increasingly at risk in recent years. These attacks only fuel our resolve to pursue freedom and justice for all, and to hold leaders accountable to the universal principles of human rights. 

    My goal is to engage Canadians decision makers at all levels to ensure we “walk the talk” and truly uphold the culture of respect for human rights for which we are globally known. We will continue to speak truth to power and to do all we can to ensure that these rights are also upheld right here at home. The current pandemic has revealed Canada’s profound inequalities, and there is much work for us to do for Indigenous, racialized and marginalized peoples in particular to not only have their basic rights upheld, but to lead free and fulfilling lives. 

    Building a more inclusive movement —one that is actively anti-racist, intersectional, decolonial, and which centers the voices, concerns and solutions of rights holders— is a top priority for me. I am particularly committed to continue building a movement which reflects Canada’s rich diversity and the values of respect, dignity and justice which are the benchmark of our movement. 

    As refugee mom of two beautiful, smart girls, I hope my appointment encourages young refugee and immigrant youth to pursue their heart’s calling and know that there is a place for everyone in Canada. You belong here and you have so much to bring. We need you and your voice to build a better and more just world, starting right here in our movement. We welcome you with open arms. 

    Beyond my personal human rights work, I am conscious that I am also the first woman, Black person, African, refugee, exiled human rights defender and poet to step into this role. Yes, so many firsts! I’m excited to bring all these identities and my rich experience in both advocacy and activism on board. 

    Despite the great challenges we face, these are unique and hopeful times for anyone who yearns for a more just world. There is such enthusiasm, passion, legitimate rage and hunger for change. The possibilities are immense, and our people-power has never been so palpable. Young people in particular are reminding us that hope combined with action have always been the path to change. 

    To quote my favorite author, Toni Morrison: “there is no time for despair”. This is precisely when we go to work. 

    It’s an honour and a joy to stand in solidarity with you and with countless passionate and fearless activists globally, as we continue to push towards the changes we so fervently seek. This work would not be possible without your dedication, your energy and the generous support of all our donors. 

    I am grateful to you all and hopeful about what we will achieve together. 

    Onwards, with hope, love and solidarity!